How exercise can play a part in with Mental Health
This week it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, I talked to Michelle about her diagnosis of depression after the birth of her daughter, and how exercise played a part in her recovery.
In 2008 Michelle Reeves left behind corporate life in the UK and moved to China for four years where her life fell apart. A traumatic birth and treatment for post-natal depression left her broken and searching for a way back to her former self. Through personal development, therapy and the combination of 8 Happiness Habits (that she writes about in her book The Happiness Habits Transformation) she went from functioning to flourishing.
Today as a certified life coach, author and podcast host Michelle believes that everyone has their own special brand of magic and adores helping ambitious women to ditch self-doubt and super-charge their clarity, confidence, courage and consistency so they can fast-track their ideal life and business. Find out more and book a free 45-min taster session at MichelleReevesCoaching.com or tune into The Ideal Life Club Podcast on iTunes.
“About 10 years ago, I quit my job in corporate marketing. My husband and I moved out to China for four years, we lived in Shanghai. It was full of excitement, we thought this is going to be the most amazing adventure, and it absolutely was. While we were out there, fast forward about two years, I was suddenly completely unrecognizable to myself in the grips of postnatal depression. I had my daughter in Shanghai, and she was premature. I suffered very severe postnatal depression afterwards. I went from being in corporate life running teams managing agency is managing a big budget, to really struggling to get out of bed in the morning. It was a huge huge shock. I found I went into therapy for a while. Then I found a way back to, to me to where I was before. That’s the subject of my book. That’s what I’ve written about in my book. To help other women who might be struggling as well. You don’t, you don’t have to have gone through a diagnosis of depression to know that there’s something not quite right in your life”
Did being away from home make it worse?
“It had a big influence. I didn’t have the support. That I mean, the team, you know, expat community was fantastic. But I didn’t have quite as much support as we have back here. Thankfully, from organizations like Mines and Pandas, UK. I’m sure that did contribute. It was a it was a challenging time, challenging time.”
This Year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is all about Body Image, did this play a part in how you were feeling?
Yeah, I’m pretty sure it did play a part actually. I was really active before I became a mom, my husband and had a personal trainer, and we used to go training. Actually, I met him through exercise.”
“ I was always really, really active. But then, you know, existing on only a couple of hours sleep because the situation I was in with my daughter was that I had to feed her every two hours every two to three hours, 24 hours a day for a bit of time, because she was premature and her stomach was very small. So existing on that small amount of sleep and also depression has a way of robbing you of energy and of making you forget the things you enjoy. It just all seemed too overwhelming to cope with living and looking after the little human, also then starting to exercise all over again. It was just it was all much but I think, yeah, definitely that obviously had an effect on the way I felt in my body and the way that I felt I looked. I don’t think I have body dysmorphia but a depression does have a way of making you see yourself very differently from the way other people do. So yeah, I definitely agree with that.”
What was that the catalyst for your change?
It wasn’t instant. I had therapy for a period of time, I had some behavioural therapy, and part of that therapy was writing therapy. So, I did a lot of writing about how I was feeling. And that actually turned and became a blog. That was part of the momentum was sharing my story. I went on to win awards for the blog. I think that sort of seeing that I wasn’t alone was a great catalyst for helping me to move forward. But also, you know, wanting to be the best mom, I could for my daughter. Also, I think honouring myself and my passions. You know, trying to get back to the woman I was before I knew that I’d been there. In that place. I knew I’d been successful and confident and happy. So, I kind of thought there must be a way back to it. And I don’t think therapy did that. For me, therapy, I will constantly and forever be grateful for the therapy I had. But I think I always say that the therapy got me from non-functioning. So really struggling to get bed to function. I was kind of existing and living. But I wasn’t thriving. It took my own sort of journey of personal development to get back to that place.”
Did Exercise have an impact on this too?
“Absolutely. It was it was a big part of my mental well-being Actually, yeah, it’s one of my eight happiness habits that I wrote about in the book.
It’s my habit number four, which is all about making moving your body daily, your stress solution without having to join the gym.
Things like you know, dancing with Amelia to try and get her to sleep, moving, swaying, doing fun stuff with her maybe going for swim, if I could get, you know, sometime away. We all know it keeps us healthy, and it releases those great feel good endorphins. That was fantastic because it was like a natural mood enhancer, which was great. And I think also just and it was a commitment to myself to take time out for me It was also me committing to taking some time out away from being a mom just for a short period of time to just do something for myself. And I think we often forget that side of exercise. It’s, you know, it’s doing something for you, which is so, so important.
I absolutely swear by getting up early and doing you know, yoga in the morning just to kind of stretch everything out.”
The Happiness Habits Transformation, tell us about our book
I really wrote the book. It was sharing my journey if you like and, and the book does include part of my journey, it goes back to that time and walks a little bit through it. But really, the book is about sharing the eight habits that I found help to bring me back to me. It was always people talking about, you know, being more grateful. Gratitude practice, for example, or, you know, you’ve got to find your goals and your y or, you know, it’s important for you to do meditation and become aware of your thoughts. And I think all these are great practices. And they definitely form part of my habits that I used myself. But it wasn’t until I created a simple daily routine around those habits that worked for me, that’s when it really started to take off. Because, you know, I would pick up a habit and try it for a while and I’d be very excited about it. And then I forget about it for a couple of days, like move on to something else. And I think we all do that so much, you know, habits form the whole of our lives, even if we don’t realize that our lives are run by habits, there’s been a huge amount of research done about on this. I’ve been very lucky to share a lot of that research in the book from people that have done it. People that have written about it then been very kind to let me share it. What the book does it kind of as well as kind of laying to rest a lot of those demons that I had from that time, I wanted to create a path that anybody could follow for their own transformation. That’s really what the books about, it’s my story, but it’s also about the readers journey within the book. And it’s really interesting when I’ve been doing book talks about this, and in the book, there are spaces, where people can write, you know, their own notes, on the journey they are going through. It’s very much meant to be a practical guide for people. So, they can have, you know, write notes as they go along, make it work for them create that routine to boost their own self-esteem and help them dream and plan their biggest goals. I think for me, the way that I stayed motivated through my transformation was setting those goals. So whether that was setting an exercise goal, you know, I’m going to try and make sure I work out, you know, maybe this week is just going to be 10 minutes, three times a week, and then I’m going to build that over time to 10 minutes, five days a week. And then I might try and do a little more weekend or whatever it might be, but kind of setting those staging goals. And doing that in all areas of my life as well as setting myself goals for my personal development and what I would help you know what I’m going to do work wise, just before I started my business as a life coach. I’m a really big advocate of setting yourself goals, and getting some help along the way as well, you know, reaching out and asking for help to help you get there”.